Updated: May 9, 2021
Benefits for the over 650,000 veterans in Illinois
Illinois Veteran Education Benefits
Illinois Veterans’ Grant
Eligible veterans can get a tuition grant from The Illinois Veterans Grant (IVG) program that pays tuition and fees at all Illinois community colleges, state colleges, and universities. The program covers up to 120 credits. Veterans must meet the following requirements to qualify:
● Six months of Illinois residency immediately before entering military service
● Honorable discharge
● One year of domestic active duty or any length of active duty overseas during a time of conflict in that country
● Illinois residency within six months of discharge
Illinois National Guard Grant
Enlisted National Guard members with a minimum of one year of service qualify for an education grant. Early-career officers also may be eligible. This grant pays for eight semesters or 12 quarters of undergraduate study either full-time or part-time state-supported colleges.
Children of Veterans Tuition Waiver
The State of Illinois awards scholarships to one child in each Illinois county each year. The scholarships to the University of Illinois benefit children of war veterans. Children of veterans from WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam war periods, Gulf War, and the War on Terror are eligible. The grant gives priority to the dependent children of deceased or disabled vets.
Illinois State Bright Start Fallen Heroes Scholarship
Children of military service members who died during Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom can get scholarship money from the State of Illinois. Family members can apply to have $2,500 deposited in a Bright Start account for the education of surviving children.
Illinois State Educational Aid for Children Between 10-18 Years Old
State aid is available to dependent children between the ages of 10 and 18 through the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. For a child to be eligible, the veteran must have died or been declared 100% disabled because of military service.
Illinois MIA/POW Scholarship
The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs also offers a scholarship for military spouses or dependent children of current service members and some veterans. Funds are provided for tuition and fees for a four-year college program on any state-supported college.
Illinois State Troops to Teachers
Returning military members who have served a minimum of six years can get help from this program if they want to become Illinois public school teachers. The veteran must have been given an honorable discharge to qualify. The program offers:
● Education grants of up to $5,000 for a teaching certification program
● $10,000 bonuses for teachers agreeing to teach for a minimum of three years in a high-needs Illinois school
● Information resources for earning state teaching certificate programs
● Academic and Career Advice and Assistance
Illinois State Veteran High School Diploma Program
War Veterans who enlisted in the service before receiving a high school diploma can apply to receive a diploma. Qualified Illinois veterans of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam are eligible for this program.
Illinois Veteran Employment Benefits
Illinois State Employment Preference for Veterans
The State of Illinois shows a hiring preference for honorably discharged Veterans who want employment with the state’s Central Management Services. Guard and Reserve members also qualify for preference if they serve for four years. Illinois residents are considered for employment before out-of-state applicants.
Illinois State Jobs for Vets Program
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) gives transition assistance to veterans. The program provides job training and placement for veterans. IDES coordinates with other agencies to help returning military members to re-enter the private sector successfully.
Reemployment Rights for National Guard Service Members
Deployed Illinois National Guard members have employment protections under Illinois law. To inform members about their rights, the Illinois Attorney General published a book listing and explaining the regulations.
Illinois Veteran Medical Benefits
Illinois State Veterans Care Program
This program offers comprehensive health care coverage for uninsured Illinois Veterans. Services include:
● Vision care
● Prescription drugs
● Lab tests and x-rays
● Clinic visits
● Inpatient and outpatient hospital care
● Physical, occupational and speech therapy
● Mental health and substance abuse services
● Emergency medical transportation
● Limited dental services
Applicants must meet an income limit to be approved and pay a monthly premium of under $100 to participate.
Illinois Warrior Assistance Program
Illinois provides resources including a 24-hour toll-free helpline (1-866-554-IWAP or 4927) for veterans with either Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or a Traumatic Brain Injury symptoms. TBI/PTSD screening is available.
Illinois Veteran Housing Benefits
The state of Illinois sponsors two housing programs for veterans.
@ Home Illinois can provide a $5,000 down payment and closing cost assistance to purchase a home or a refinance of the present house. Veterans also qualify for some federal income tax reductions, and lender-paid mortgage insurance for veterans and their families. The benefits are available to first-time buyers, repeat buyers, and homeowners looking to refinance statewide.
1st Home Illinois is a program for all veterans (does not need to be their first home purchase) and all first-time homebuyers that provides $7,500 in down payment and closing cost aid. Buyers can apply for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a competitive interest rate under this program.
Illinois GI Home Credit Program
To lower a borrower’s federal income taxes, Illinois veterans and currently serving military who are buying a home for the first time can take advantage of Illinois State Mortgage Credit Certificate(MCC). Contact your local Illinois County Assessor’s office to apply.
Veterans Specially Adapted Housing Tax Exemption
When a disabled veteran uses federal funds to purchase an adapted home or remodel a home for easier access and use, the State of Illinois provides a property tax exemption. The exemption continues as long as the veteran, or the spouse, or unmarried surviving spouse lives on the property.
Illinois State Veterans Tax Exemption for Mobile Homes
The state program provides an exemption from the Mobile Home Local Services Tax Act. Illinois veterans, spouses, and surviving unmarried spouses who use the mobile home as a primary residence can contact a local County Tax Assessor office for more information on how to apply.
Illinois Veterans’ Homes
The Prince Homeless/Disabled Veterans’ Home has five locations:
● Quincy, Illinois
● LaSalle, Illinois
● Anna, Illinois
● Manteno, Illinois
To qualify for a bed in one of the homes, a vet must meet specific criteria:
Was living in Illinois when entered the military OR
Has lived in Illinois for a minimum of one year before applying for placement
Served in the military during any recognized wartime period.
Pass a background check
Illinois Veteran Financial Benefits
Illinois State Veterans Tax Credit
Illinois grants any business that hires veterans a $1,200 tax credit.
Illinois State Returning Veterans’ Homestead Exemption
Qualifying vets should contact their local County Assessor’s office to apply for a one-time $5,000 reduction to their home’s Equalized Assessed Value.
Illinois State Disabled Veterans’ Homestead Exemption
Disabled veterans who qualify can apply for a homestead tax exemption. Veterans with VA-rated service-connected disability between 50% and 75% may be eligible for a $2,500 tax exemption. For qualifying veterans who have at least a 75 % VA-rated service-connected disability may be eligible for a $5,000 tax exemption. Contact your local County Assessor’s Office.
State of Illinois Military Service Bonuses
Veterans who have received particular awards and medals and served in wartime can apply for a one-time bonus at the nearest Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs service office. Surviving family members of deceased service members also may qualify.
To apply for bonuses listed here, must submit a bonus application and an armed forces certificate.
World War II Bonus: Residents of Illinois who have been honorably discharged and served a minimum of 60 days on active duty between September 16, 1940, and September 3, 1945, will receive $10 every month for domestic service and $15 every month for foreign service. A survivor’s benefit of $1,000 is awarded if the veterans died due to service during hostile action with enemy forces.
Korean War Bonus Payment: Korean Service Medal recipients who served in Korea Korea between June 27, 1950 – July 27, 1953, can apply for a $100 bonus. The veteran must have lived in Illinois for one year immediately before entering the service.
Vietnam War Bonus Payment: Recipients of the Vietnam Service Medal or Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Vietnam, who were honorable discharge for service during one of the periods listed below, are entitled to a $100 bonus. The veteran must have lived in Illinois for one year immediately before entering the service.
● Vietnam: January 1, 1961 – March 28, 1973
● Vietnam Frequent Wind: April 29, 30, 1975
Survivors might be eligible for a $1,000 benefit if the veteran's death was service-connected.
Persian Gulf War Bonus Payment: Honorably discharged recipients of the Southwest Asia Service Medal can apply for a $100 bonus. To qualify for the money, Illinois residents must have served between August 2, 1990 – November 30, 1995. The veteran must have lived in Illinois for one year immediately before entering the service. Service members still on active duty may apply prior to discharge.
Global War on Terrorism Bonus Payment: Service members who were serving on or after September 11, 2001, may be eligible to receive a $100 bonus if they were either honorably discharged or still serving. The veteran must have lived in Illinois for one year immediately before entering the service.
The bonus requires 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days of service either on foreign soil or at sea service, and the applicant must have been awarded one of the awards listed below.
● Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
● Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
● Iraq Campaign Medal
● Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Those who qualify but are still on active duty may apply prior to discharge.
POW Compensation: Service members who were captured and held prisoner in Southeast Asia on or after January 1961 can apply for a bonus amounting to $50 for each month they were held captive. The veteran must have lived in Illinois for one year immediately before entering the service.
Additional Illinois Veteran Benefits
Chicago Transit Authority Military Service Pass
A free Chicago Transit Authority pass is available to any active duty Reserves and National Guard member and veterans with a minimum of a 10% VA-rated service-connected disabled. These passes are only for the CTA and not for the Metra rail service. Apply in person on the first Tuesday of every month at 100 W. Randolph, Suite 5-507, or the fourth Tuesday of any month at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.
Illinois State Veterans’ Grave Registration
The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Roll of Honor keeps track of allis a database all known Veterans buried in the State of Illinois," according to the Illinois State Department of Veterans Affairs. This database can help locate a deceased veteran's gravesite and for help in genealogical research, family histories, etc.
Illinois State Indigent Veterans Burial Benefit
Honorably discharged veterans, their mothers, fathers, spouses, or surviving children (minors) who demonstrate a financial need can get up to $900 in assistance for a burial.
Illinois State Headstone Fees Benefit for Veterans
Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs will reimburse a family member up to $100 when the federal government provides a headstone or marker for a deceased veteran buried in Illinois.
Illinois State Camping, Hunting, and Fishing Fee Benefits
Eligible Illinois veterans and immediate family (when accompanied by the veteran) can camp for free in any state-run park.
Fishing and hunting license fees are not charged to some disabled veterans. Veterans with either a VA-rated service-connected disability of 10% or more or receive total disability pension benefits qualify to hunt and fish for free—present supporting documentation such as VA disability award letters to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
Waived Illinois State Museum Fees for Ex-POWs
Ex-POWs who visit any state-supported museum pay no admission fees.
Illinois State Disabled Veterans License Plates and Parking
Free special veterans license plates are available free of charge to veterans with a VA-rated 100 percent service-connected disability. Supporting documentation such as a VA award letter or a DD Form 214 report of military discharge may be required.
Any vehicles that display the plates for disabled veterans are "exempt from any statute or ordinance imposing time limitations on parking in business districts or other facilities